The Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks took it on the chin in Pittsburgh last night, losing 5-1 against the Penguins. Tonight, they must rebound right away against the Carolina Hurricanes if they want to keep their edge in the division.
Pittsburgh bombarded the Sharks and goaltender Antti Niemi with four scores in the first 7:30 of the second period, and then the not-so-gracious hosts tossed another goal in the final period against San Jose backup goalie Alex Stalock.
The Penguins scored those four goals on just 15 shots in the second period, and they only took three shots in the third period. San Jose outshot Pittsburgh, 45-30, on the night, but that never matters if your defense and/or goalie aren't up to the task, and sometimes it happens.
Tomas Hertl got the Sharks' only score on the night, scoring his 14th goal of the season on assists from Joe Thornton and Brent Burns.
Now, San Jose takes on Carolina tonight in the second of the back-to-back contests and the third on this four-game road trip that culminates Sunday in Minnesota. The Hurricanes (12-12-5) aren't a great team this year, but the Sharks (19-4-5) will be tired and road weary.
Luckily for San Jose, they still have the top spot in the Pacific Division thanks to their recent run of success, winning nine of ten before the Pittsburgh loss. The Sharks have a two-point lead on the Anaheim Ducks, with two games in hand as well.
But the team knows what they bring to the table every game, no matter who the opponent.
"It was more our mistakes than what they did right," San Jose center Logan Couture told reporters after last night's loss. "We weren't ourselves. We weren't moving pucks. We were turning it over. In the neutral zone we weren't good. I think it was more us than them."
The Penguins may not agree, but they're in the rear-view now, regardless. All that matters is focusing on Carolina tonight, and the Sharks have lost four of their last five on the road against the Hurricanes.